Curbing Unions

A Misguided New Strike Law

Streik der Lokführer
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    On Friday, the German parliament passed a law aimed at limiting the power of smaller trade unions, whereby only one union will negotiate for the rights of workers within a company. The law is likely to be contested by the constitutional court.

  • Facts


    • Several unions representing small groups of specialized workers, such as train drivers and airline pilots, have gone on strike in recent months.
    • Last Friday, the Bundestag voted for larger unions to represent workers at companies where there are two competing unions.
    • The new law is likely to be contested in the Federal Constitutional Court.
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 It really works! Finally, the train drivers’ union GDL and German rail operator Deutsche Bahn have realized they can’t resolve their muddled wage dispute on their own. Two arbitrators will first of all try to calm tempers. It remains to be seen whether the mediators will be able to induce the opponents to retreat from their unyielding positions.

The realization comes late. Deutsche Bahn alone has lost at least €300 million in the nine strikes up to now. There are proposals to bring such wage disputes to the arbitration table sooner in the future. Especially in areas where a strike hurts not only employers but also uninvolved third parties: commuters who wait fruitlessly for a train, passengers whose flights are canceled, parents who don’t know what to do with their children when kindergartens are closed.

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